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Some had wheels that turned, but these had to be pushed or pulled. A few of the early 19th-century push toy rails were made of tinplate, such as the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., that were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains england

Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were altered when Märklin, a German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equal toy for boys in which a constant revenue stream could be ensured by selling add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. In addition to boxed sets containing a train and track, Märklin offered extra track, rolling stock, and buildings sold separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring buildings and scenery in addition to a working train.



Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, produced by the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more common in the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time went on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload cargo. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were frequently made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards children, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, particularly teenaged boys.

Today, S gauge and O gauge railroads are still considered toy trains by their adherents and are often accessorized with semi-scale model buildings by Plasticville or even K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings produced by Marx in the 1950s into the 1970s). However, as a result of their high cost, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than an O scale set.

Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronics which emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run several remote control trains on a single loop of track. In recent decades, many toy rail operators may operate a train with a TV camera at the front of the motor and hooked up to a screen, such as computer monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a real (smaller size) railroad.

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